Perhaps you’re trying a new teaching strategy this semester, or you’re teaching a new course and you wonder what your students think of it. Or you want to avoid surprises in your end-of-semester evaluations. All of these are reasons get some feedback from your students through a mid-semester evaluation.
A mid-semester evaluation gives you an opportunity to get targeted feedback on specific teaching strategies. It also gives you a chance to make changes in a course at a point when they can benefit this semester’s students. Finally, if it’s done well, a mid-semester evaluation can improve your end-of-semester evaluations (McGowan and Osguthorpe, 2011).
If you decide to get some feedback through a mid-semester evaluation, there are several questions to consider. You need to decide when to collect the feedback (probably around, or just prior to, the middle of the semester), and how to collect it (in an anonymous Canvas survey, a paper form, or perhaps in a survey tool such as Qualtrics). But most importantly, you need to decide what to ask. Essentially what you want to ask your students is:
- What am I doing in this class that helps you learn? (That is, what should I keep doing, or do more of?)
- What could I change that would improve your learning in this course?
- What could you as students do to improve your own learning? (A nice reminder that it isn’t all on you as the instructor.)
Your mid-semester feedback form could be as simple as these three questions, or you could ask more specific questions about particular teaching strategies; it all depends on what you’d like feedback on. But regardless of what you ask, or how you administer the survey, you should explain its purpose to your students—to get their thoughtful, constructive feedback to improve your teaching and their learning.
Once you’ve administered the survey and received students’ feedback, it can be helpful to sort the responses into three categories:
- Things that seem to be working well in the course
- Things that you’re willing to change or to work on
- Things that you don’t want to change
There’s one more step in the process, and it’s VERY important: Talk to your students openly and honestly about their responses, during a subsequent class period. If you don’t do this, your students may feel that they were ignored or that their feedback wasn’t valued. You don’t need to take much time (5 to 10 minutes is plenty), but you should include the main points from each of the categories above. You can also take this time to explain your pedagogical choices and to thank students for their feedback.
To learn more about the CITL’s online mid-semester evaluation, or to plan a mid-semester evaluation in your course, contact the CITL to meet with a consultant. If you’d like to see examples of some possible MSE questions, visit this Canvas site and import one of the quizzes there into your own course site.
A permanent version of this material is available on our resources site: https://citl.indiana.edu/teaching-resources/documenting-teaching/mid-semester-eval/.
McGowan, W., & Osguthorpe, R. (2011). Student and faculty perceptions of effects of midcourse evaluation. In Miller, J. & Groccia, J. (Eds), To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development, 29, 160-172.